Imperial accused of covering up bullying claims against President Alice Gast

She was accused of reducing staff to tears


Imperial College London is under fire at the moment amid claims they covered up allegations of bullying by their President, Professor Alice Gast.

Professor Gast is president of the number one institution in London and the third best university in the country. The cover-up allegations follow an investigation this summer where dozens of staff members gave their testimonies on Zoom. People are now calling for the report of this investigation to be made public.

The investigation was led by a barrister and brought to light the experiences of staff members who reported being belittled, accused of incompetence and even reduced to tears by Prof Gast. This Professor’s total package equates to £554,000 a year between her £357,600 salary and her Kensington Campus apartment. However this year she did voluntarily take a 20% pay cut following the Covid Crisis.

Prof Alice Gast has offered “wholehearted apologies” to those affected by allegations against her, but the report investigating her behaviour has not been released despite urges from the trade unions and MPs.

Trade Unions representing the academic staff of Imperial College London are questioning whether it is tenable for Prof Gast to remain in her position. Their questions arose after it came to light that Imperial would not be releasing the report carried out by barrister Jane McNeill QC, where she investigated Prof Gast and another high-ranking Imperial Exec.

Professor Gast has previously described herself as the “chief executive” of the university. And so, whilst a disciplinary board made up of the university council has decided that dismissal was not necessary, many students and staff members are concerned by the decision.

The Guardian reported that the email sent out was found to be “patronising” according to the branch president of the UCU union at Imperial College, Dr Michael McGarvey. McGarvey also told The Guardian that the atmosphere at the university had now been contaminated. He said “We are supposedly one of the top universities in the country and the staff are more or less being told: ‘You are the little people and we can’t tell you what really happened.’ Then it ends on an almost celebratory note,” he added.

Labour MP Alex Sobel also commented on the matter in the House of Commons: “I was surprised that in response to my question, that considering the seniority of the staff in the report, the council at Imperial didn’t put the report in the public domain. Imperial plays a crucial role in public life. Wouldn’t sunshine be the best disinfectant?”

John Allan said that the reason the report would remain confidential is to protect the identity of those who gave evidence. He went on to add that the result of the report was a series of recommendations. He said “Those recommendations have been accepted by the college and its senior leadership team and are being implemented in full,” he added.

A spokesperson for Imperial said: “The president has offered wholehearted apologies to those affected.”

Professor Alice Gast has not responded to requests for comment.

A spokesperson for Imperial College London said: “In line with our procedures, we commissioned an independent QC-led inquiry concerning alleged behaviours by senior staff.  The report from this inquiry, which is confidential, made recommendations which the College has fully accepted and is implementing.  We will not comment further on this personnel matter.”